Christmas game between Santos and Vikings on a Friday is a programming anomaly for the NFL | Saints

Each family has its own holiday traditions, be it backyard football on Thanksgiving Day or driving around town to see the Christmas lights.

The NFL and the NBA are no different with their vacation customs.

Thanksgiving has always been the day of the NFL. It has been like this since the beginning of the NFL in 1920 – only taking a hiatus during World War II. Christmas, on the other hand, has been the NBA’s holiday to shine, starting as a fixture on the league’s calendar in 1947.

The NFL changed the rules of the holiday this year, scheduling a game on Christmas Day with the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings starting at 3:25 pm on Fox and the NFL Network. The list of three NBA games will air on ESPN and ABC, with the New Orleans Pelicans leaving at 11 am against the Miami Heat.

“I feel like everyone is going to watch – those who are not watching basketball,” said receiver Emmanuel Sanders. “What, I pray that people watch football instead of basketball, and we have to go out and put on a show.”

Now, it is not completely out of the ordinary for NFL games to take place on Christmas Day, as this will be the 22nd game in NFL history held on Christmas Day. However, all but one of the previously scheduled Christmas Day games were held on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday – normal NFL dates at this time of the season.

The first two games on Christmas Day took place in 1971 during the playoffs with the Dallas Cowboys defeating the Minnesota Vikings and the Miami Dolphins defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in double overtime.

The last game between Miami and Kansas City started at 3 pm CT and became the longest game in NFL history, lasting 82 minutes and 40 seconds of playing time. As the game lasted until the night and clashed with Christmas dinner, the NFL drew anger from across the country, and the league subsequently avoided Christmas Day games – even moving the season forward by a week in 1976 and playing postseason games on a Monday to avoid the Sunday Christmas Games in 1977.

But 18 years after the first games on Christmas Day were played, the NFL scheduled a game late Monday night on Christmas Day 1989, starting at 8 pm CT between the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals, with the Minnesota’s 29-21 victory.

Since then, there have been 18 games on Christmas Day, although there has been an increase since 2004.

The 2009 game between San Diego Chargers and Tennessee Titans stands out among the rest for one reason: it was played on a Friday.

That game – the only other game in NFL history like the next Saints vs. Game. Vikings – started at 18:34 CT in Nashville, Tennessee, at LP Field (now known as Nissan Stadium) and the Chargers defeated the home team, 42-17 in Week 16.

From the AFL / NFL merger in 1970 to Week 15 of 2020, there were 11,972 regular season games. Only 10 of them were played on a Friday – with this Friday game marking the 11th occasion in 50 years.

The Saints, having never played on Christmas Day before, were featured in one of those Friday games. The Saints defeated the Dallas Cowboys in 1999 by a score of 31-24 in their third and final win of that season on Christmas Eve.

The Vikings, on the other hand, have already played two games on Friday – beating Washington, 14 to 9, on December 31, 1993, and losing to the Packers on December 24, 2004, by a score of 34- 31.

Whatever happens between New Orleans and Minnesota on Friday, just the simple fact that the game itself is happening on Christmas Day is a rarity, considering that there have only been two contests in the past 50 years that meet these specific criteria .

And Saints coach Sean Payton said he would accept. Because?

“Obviously, Friday is better than a Thursday game,” he said.

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